Editorial: Red Cross does what few agencies can


The Lima News



You see it in Catherine Reed and Loretta Burguei of Lima.

Leah Buchhop of Ottawa has it, too. So does Eddie Glossett of Van Wert and Linda Carmean of Wapakoneta.

They are volunteers who put their own lives on hold to travel hundreds of miles, helping people they’ve never met or whom they may never see again.

They are the face of the American Red Cross. A face of compassion and caring.

It is an organization capable of doing what other agencies can only imagine. This well-oiled machine with its many movable parts can drop a brigade of angels into places like Texas and Florida just hours following hurricanes like Harvey and Irma.

You need look no further than its West Central Ohio Chapter, based in Lima, to see how quickly the American Red Cross can mobilize.

Days before Harvey unleashed its fury of wind and water on Houston, Becky Hauserman of Pandora was playing the “what if” game, seeking and interviewing volunteers just in case the storm happened. The volunteers would have to be able to stay at least two weeks and be in good health, she would tell them.

None were scared away.

Retirees, nurses and young people in between jobs answered her calls. Ten from West Central Ohio left in the first wave to help. More than a dozen followed later.

At ground zero, they provided food, shelter, health services and emotional support. They fanned out in affected neighborhoods, delivering meals, bug spray, diapers and cleaning supplies. They connected people with services that would help them begin their recovery.

“They knew that a smile, kind words or shoulder to cry on may be exactly what some people needed to begin their recovery,” said Hauserman, who has volunteered for more than 20 years herself.

Donations also poured in.

The West Central Chapter received more than $50,000 from the 10 counties it serves: Allen, Auglaize, Mercer, Van Wert, Putnam, Paulding, Defiance, Henry, Williams and Fulton.

Amazingly, that large territory is staffed by the equivalent of just three full-time people in its Collett Street office.

“Operating such a lean operations is one of the reasons the national Red Cross is able to provide 91 percent of the donations it receives nationally to the work done in the field,” said Derek Stemen, who heads up local operations.

This year marks the 100-year anniversary that Lima has had a local Red Cross chapter. It’s hard to imagine how many blood drives have been held during that time or how many families of soldiers have been assisted. One can only guess how many smoke alarms have been handed out or victims of fires helped.

The community should consider itself fortunate.

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The Lima News

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